The World Cup champions are coming to town
The first professional soccer match at Mapfre Stadium this year was momentous: The Crew was actually saved, and here they were on the pitch to prove it. The venue’s final pro competition of 2019 will be significant, too, for different but similarly celebratory reasons.
Mapfre will play host to the U.S. women’s national team this Thursday, Nov. 7. The team is on a victory tour commemorating its dominant run at the World Cup in France this past summer. Columbus, a longtime stronghold for American soccer, was granted one of the highly sought-after exhibitions — a rematch with Sweden, one of the countries the USWNT downed on its way to a world championship.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
Some prominent names will be missing. Sadly, some of the biggest stars from the World Cup won’t be participating in Thursday’s match. Most notably, Megan Rapinoe, the fiery and provocative forward who feuded with President Donald Trump and was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, is one of five players sidelined with an injury. Her fellow star striker, Alex Morgan, will miss the match due to pregnancy. Others on the injured list include defenders Kelley O’Hara, Ali Krieger, Crystal Dunn and Tierna Davidson.
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The majority of the championship team will be present. The 24-person training camp roster for Thursday’s Columbus contest includes core World Cup players such as Rose Lavelle (who scored in the final against the Netherlands), goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (who famously stopped a penalty kick in the semifinal), Christen Press (a goal-scorer in that same semifinal) and veteran forward Carli Lloyd (who, besides her service in France this year, also scored a hat trick in the 2015 World Cup final against Japan). Other names reappearing from this year’s World Cup final include Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn.
It’s the new coach’s debut appearance. Jill Ellis, who coached the USWNT to the championship, announced her impending retirement at the end of July. Her replacement is Vlatko Andonovski, a Macedonian-American man who has coached multiple teams in the NWSL, the American pro league where many on the USWNT roster ply their trade.
There’s history between these teams. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Sweden defeated the USWNT on penalties in the quarterfinals, handing the squad their earliest exit from a global competition since the first Women’s World Cup was held in 1991. So when the nations faced off in group play this past summer, the Americans had revenge on the mind. They got it, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Horan and Heath. The stakes are much lower in this so-called “friendly,” but chances are Sweden will come in with redemption on the mind.
How can you watch? The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster starting at $40, and if you’re quick, the Crew is holding a contest for free tickets through 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The action will also be broadcast on FS1 and TUDN.